Brilliant is made with the loving efforts of dedicated math and science educators and lifelong
learners from MIT, Caltech, Duke, the University of Chicago, and more.
Lead educators
Zandra Vinegar
Director of Mathematics
B.S. in Mathematics, MIT
Leader and teacher at the most prestigious US math circles
Zandra came to Brilliant because she couldn't stop solving the problems after signing up. Before starting here, she was a curriculum developer at the Museum of Math in Manhattan and studied Math and Math Education at MIT. She's passionate about impacting education globally and making critical thinking accessible… to anyone - which, fortunately, happens to be part of Brilliant's mission as well.
Since joining Brilliant, Zandra has been able to cross several items off her bucket list - such as helping users understand Euler's identity and explore the uses for imaginary numbers. While developing these courses, Zandra has also been teaching classes like “How to Cut a Cake” and “A Hardball Intro to Maxwell's Equations” for local math circle after-school programs. Now, Zandra has the ability to impact students in her own neighborhood, as well as across the world.
“Most of why I teach is because I love when students have those 'AAAAH THAT MAKES SO MUCH SENSE NOW' moments.”
Patrick Zulkowski
Advanced Mathematics Lead
Ph.D. in Mathematics, Johns Hopkins University; Ph.D. in Physics, UC Berkeley
Teacher with 11 years of experience
Patrick's love for mathematics came from an initial fascination with astronomy. Realizing that understanding astrophysics would be impossible without advanced mathematics, he received advanced degrees in both areas. For his Ph.D. in Mathematics, he did research in minimal surface theory…, solving the so-called Plateau Problem in Alexandrov Spaces. For his Ph.D. in Physics, he investigated one possible route for quantizing gravity independently of string theory, and then transitioned into nonequilibrium statistical mechanics.
Patrick has been teaching college-level math for a total of 15 years. While teaching, he was able to see firsthand how the current methodology for instructing mathematics and science can fail to prepare students for independent work in these areas and even cause frustration and disillusionment. At Brilliant, he hopes to reach out to a broad audience, share his passion for math, and even help shape the future of math education.
“I hope to inspire new generations to pursue higher-levels of mathematics and provide the resources and guidance I didn't have as a budding mathematician.”
Jason Dyer
Foundational Mathematics Lead
B.S. in Mathematics and B.F.A in Fine Arts Studies, University of Arizona
Created a video series that taught algebra through motocross racing
As Brilliant's Foundational Math Lead, Jason is passionate about making math content accessible and enjoyable to everyone.
Jason has always loved puzzles and art—he has a collection of GAMES World of Puzzle magazines dating back to the 1980s, plays four instruments,… and has sung bass in Beethoven's 9th and Mahler's 2nd symphonies. His interest in the intersection of math and art continued as he spent 11 years as a high school math teacher. After reading math textbooks and resources that were confusing or badly written, he realized that he could do much better. Since then, he's designed a curriculum that teaches algebra through motocross racing and worked with Illustrative Mathematics to teach elementary school teachers how to explain fractions.
Jason has brought his innovative teaching methods to Brilliant, where he's worked on many courses that explain foundational math concepts in illustrative, interactive ways.
“I want to make the clarity and joy of math understandable to everyone.”
Arron Kau
Mathematics Content Developer
M.A. in Liberal Arts, St. John's College
Designed and taught high school math courses oriented around problem solving and discussion.
Arron's lifelong passion lies at the intersection of mathematics and storytelling. He studied English (and a lot of math) during his undergraduate years and has a masters in liberal arts. He's also spent almost a decade teaching at the high school level in classrooms all around the United States. In addition, as the… father of four kids, Arron understands the importance of incorporating play and experimentation into math education.
Arron's career in education has centered on recovering and retelling the stories that help make sense of mathematics. These are the stories behind the mathematics itself, as well as the stories that people create when they encounter math problems and construct solutions.
To Arron, Brilliant is an exciting place to work because he is able to develop a math education program that aims to honestly reflect the intricate beauty of the subject itself.
“Learning requires confusion. Find something that doesn't make sense—a puzzle, a contradiction, a mystery—and keep looking and asking until things make sense again.”
Josh Silverman
Director of Science
Ph.D. in Biological Physics, The Scripps Research Institute
Published in Molecular Systems Biology
Josh was born in the greatest place on Earth — Long Island, New York. His earliest scientific memory is figuring out why wood and styrofoam float while rocks sink, which impressed his first grade teacher. In high school, a great chemistry class led Josh to a research position at Rockefeller University…, where he worked on RNA biology and fell in love... with living systems. Living systems are mysterious because they have extraneous details and occur in a realm that's far away from well-understood physics. Still, bold and reproducible behaviors emerge from the maelstrom — how can this be?
Josh spent many years studying one such bold behavior: how growing cells allocate resources. The path to the answer involved an intriguing blend of coarse-grained statistical mechanics, years of midnights tending to E. coli dividing in sugar water, and several more years of data analysis. Solving the problem was only possible because a diverse group of people were able to see connections between traditionally distant fields (e.g. physics and biology) and use them to unmask relationships that had lay hidden for generations. Sadly, though the difficulty of gathering information is at an all-time low, educational systems encourage specialization and narrow understanding. This is a dangerous trend Josh hopes to reverse with Brilliant.
Lee Weinstein
Principal Scientist
Ph.D. In Mechanical Engineering, MIT
7 first-author publications, including work in Solar Energy, Chemical Reviews, and Smart Materials and Structures.
Lee grew up traipsing through the hills of Marin County, California, which led to a deep appreciation of nature and the natural world. This, combined with a penchant for analytical thinking (which manifested in his early days by optimizing… board game strategies), led to the pursuit of engineering, in the hopes of developing technologies that could help us preserve our precious planet's ability to sustain life.
During his ensuing Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at MIT, Lee discovered that his time spent teaching and mentoring felt more impactful than his time spent developing renewable energy technologies. Over time he dedicated more effort to educating others, whether through teaching courses, tutoring, volunteering in after school programs, or writing online curricula. This culminated in his working at Brilliant, where he can develop engaging courses that he hopes will inspire learners worldwide.
“The best way to learn is by doing: solving problems, cracking puzzles, and eventually making something you can call your own.”
Aaron Miller
Principal Scientist
Ph.D. in Physics, Penn State University
Designed and taught college courses on topics in physics and AI
Aaron's preoccupation with puzzles started in elementary school and later shifted to a passion for exploring how the universe works. He entered Cornell University as a math major, but after seeing how the formalism of vector calculus was applied in physics courses, he decided to finish undergraduate… degrees in both math and physics.
After graduating, he studied self-organizing pattern formation in networks of idealized neurons and discovered the great joy of converting science naysayers into science admirers. He was an Assistant Professor of Physics at Bridgewater College and joined Brilliant in 2016, where he's still seeking new ways of presenting science to make it interesting and fun for scientists and nonscientists alike.
“The common thread through my teaching has been posing questions that compel students to think creatively, like scientists, instead of algorithmically, like computers.”
Rob Simmons
Managing Producer, Computer Science
Ph.D. in Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University
Second person to win the graduate and faculty teaching awards from the Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science.
Rob discovered his love of teaching in his early 30s, after finishing a Ph.D. in computer science at Carnegie Mellon University. After graduating, Rob stayed at Carnegie Mellon as an introductory computer science lecturer, teaching introductory courses on data structures… and algorithms as well as advanced courses on the design of compilers and programming languages. In 2015, he won the school's Herbert A. Simon Award for Teaching Excellence.
In 2016, Rob moved to Raleigh, North Carolina with his spouse, a professor of computer science at North Carolina State University. Since then, Rob has been exploring new ways of teaching computer science. He has worked as a freelance curriculum developer, a personal tutor, and an independent teacher for group classes. Now at Brilliant, he is excited to present beautiful computer science ideas to a wide audience.
Rob is incredibly excited to work with Brilliant's talented designers and illustrators to bring ideas to life in clear and accessible ways. Success is a team sport, and Rob sees something special in Brilliant's emphasis on collaboration between great science and great design.
“We are succeeding if we spark someone's interest of interest in a subject they'd previously misunderstood. Maybe we can even place the first pieces of kindling that will nurture that spark”
Mithuna Yoganathan
Producer
Ph.D. Candidate in Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge
Creator of Looking Glass Universe, a physics and math Youtube channel
Mithuna started an educational Youtube channel for fun, but it ended up changing the course of her career. Inspired by her quantum mechanics classes, she decided to make videos teaching it to a lay audience. However, while trying to explain the equations …in plain English, she realized that she didn't understand the explanation behind those equations... and no one did. That's why she decided to move to Cambridge, UK to research quantum mechanics.
While she loved being a researcher, she felt that she could make a bigger impact through teaching. Most importantly, she wanted to correct the misconception that math and science aren't for everyone, since STEM skills are valuable in all career paths. During her Ph.D., Mithuna continued making Youtube videos and attending face-to-face science outreach events at schools. Brilliant offered her the ability to do both – creating content that reaches a large audience, while teaching concepts in an interactive, personalized way.
“I love teaching maths to someone who says they hate maths and they're not good at it – I love changing their mind!”
Blake Farrow
VP of Content
M.S. in Materials Science and Applied Physics, Caltech
11 publications, 4 biotech patents; science consultant for Bones and CSI
Blake owes a lot of his interest in science to numerous family pets and the Dewey Decimal system. While taking care of his dogs, cats, lizards, parrots, and snakes, he developed a love for the natural world and explored the neighborhood library for more information. The chemistry, physics, and… biology books were right next to the Animals and Plants section; the rest of the story writes itself.
After stumbling upon these subjects, Blake pursued them more seriously by studying nanotechnology engineering at the University of Waterloo, and applied physics at Caltech. He continued his random walk through scientific fields as a Howard Hughes research fellow investigating molecular recognition and personalized medicine while lecturing in both physical chemistry and chemical physics.
To Blake, Brilliant is a step up from the library in that it stresses the interconnectedness of science and teaches interactively. Learning facts in a classroom couldn't be further from real math and science - asking questions is a more effective and fun way to learn.
“The easiest way to teach is through lectures, but it's hard to learn that way. We make the effort to teach the hard way, through crafting challenging and interactive problems.”
Eli Ross
B.S. in Mathematics, MIT
Director of Harvard-MIT math tournament; USA Mathematical Olympiad 2009
After qualifying for the USA Mathematical Olympiad, winning engineering competitions, and organizing one of the largest math tournaments in Florida, Eli decided to drop out of high school at age 16 to pursue a degree in Mathematics at MIT. While at MIT, Eli honed his broader desire to use data and logic… to understand the world around us. He applied these skills as a quantitative derivatives trader, but soon realized he wanted to make a more meaningful impact on a broader scale. At Brilliant, Eli uses his math and computer science background to develop problem-solving based courses that enable anyone to learn modern, quantitative skills - no expensive summer program required.
“My hope is to democratize access to cutting-edge quantitative literacy. Without that, most people will be shut out of the critical decisions shaping our collective future.”
Calvin Lin
M.S. in Mathematics, University of Chicago
International Math Olympiad ‘01, ‘02
Calvin began noticing flaws with the education system in high school, when he found himself memorizing concepts instead of truly understanding them. In college, he learned how these concepts come together and form a larger framework, and he hasn't looked back since….
Calvin has also excelled in several elite math competitions, including the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) and Putnam Competition. He also helped train students for the IMO and Putnam, an experience that sparked his interest in making Olympiad math more accessible to everyone. Since then, he has been a Counselor in the Young Scholars Program at University of Chicago, lectured in various math circles, and even taught the trader trainee class at Optiver, where he worked as an options trader. At Brilliant, his biggest goal is to improve how math and science are taught around the world.
“We do not need to train robots. What we need are independent, critical thinkers who can solve novel problems that no one knows exist yet.”
Course contributors
Over 70 instructors and researchers from around the world have contributed to the courses on Brilliant.
Starbuck Beagley
B.S. in Computer Science, Rochester Institute of Technology
Surya Bhupatiraju
B.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT B.S. in Mathematics, MIT
Gerardo Bledt
M.S. in Mechanical Engineering, MIT M.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT
Thom Bohdanowicz
Ph.D. Candidate, Caltech B.ASc. Computer Engineering, University of Waterloo B.S. in Mathematical Physics, University of Waterloo
Christopher Boo
B.Comp. in Computer Science, National University of Singapore
Jordan Calmes
Pharm.D, University of Wyoming M.S. in Science Writing, MIT B.S. in Chemistry, University of Wyoming
Agnishom Chattopadhyay
B.Sc. in Mathematics and Computer Science, Chennai Mathematical Institute
Peter Chiappini
M.S in Applied Mathematics, Stony Brook University M.A in Mathematics, Stony Brook University
Lawrence Chiou
Ph.D. in Biophysics, Stanford University
Alex Chumbley
M.Eng in Computer Science, MIT
Samantha Cody
B.A. in Physics, Princeton University
Brandon Conley
Head Teaching Fellow, Harvard University B.S. in Chemistry, University of Kentucky B.A. in Classical Languages & Literature, University of Kentucky
Patrick Corn
Ph.D. in Mathematics, UC Berkeley
Varsha Dani
Ph.D. in Computer Science, University of Chicago
Matt DeCross
B.S. in Mathematics, MIT Ph.D. in Physics, University of Pennsylvania
Marra DeGraff
M.S. in Earth Systems, Stanford University
Damon Demas
Ph.D. in Mathematics, University of New Hampshire
Bryn Dickinson
B.A. in Natural Sciences, University of Cambridge
Andrew Dickson
B.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, UC Berkeley
Dustin Driver
B.A. in Journalism, San Francisco State University
Nathan Dummit
B.A. in Art Education, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign M.A. in Linguistics, CUNY Graduate Center
Mark Dylewski
B.S. in Mathematics and Computer Science, Lock Haven University M.A.T. in Mathematics, Binghamton University
Kenji Ejima
Master of Information Sciences, Tohoku University
Andrew Ellinor
B.S. Mathematics, University of Florida
Pranshu Gaba
Bachelor of Science (Research) Programme, Indian Institute of Science
Pi Han Goh
B.S. in Actuarial Science, Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman
Andres Gonzalez-Goodman
B.S. in Mathematics, University of Chicago Masters in Middle Childhood Education, Hunter College
Rohit Gupta
B.E. in Instrumentation and Control, NSIT India
Andy Hayes
M.S. Mathematics Education, Duquesne University B.S. Industrial & Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech
Jason Horowitz
Ph.D. in Mathematics, UC Berkeley
Heesu Hwang
B.A. in Mathematics, Princeton University
Sameer Kailasa
B.A. in Mathematics, University of Chicago
Alexander Katz
B.S. in Mathematics and Computer Science, MIT
Samir Khan
B.S. in Mathematics and Computer Science, Unviersity of Chicago
Jimin Khim
Ph.D. in Economics, University of Chicago
David Klein
B.A. in Statistics, Economics, Political Science, UC Berkeley
Julie Kneller
Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
Anna Komar
Ph.D. in Physics, Caltech
Jack Kovacich
B.S. in Statistics, San Francisco State University
Anton Kriksunov
B.S. in Biological and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University
Nathan Landman
B.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT B.S. in Mechancal Engineering, MIT
Scott Lee
B.A. in Computer Science and Statistics, UC Berkeley
Kevin Lee
B.S. in Biochemistry, University of Washington
Dan MacKinnon
BEd. in Mathematics and Computer Science, University of Ottawa BSc. in Mathematics, Dalhousie University BCS in Computer Science, Carleton University MSc. in Mathematics, Dalhousie Unversity
Henry Maltby
B.A. in Mathematics, UC Berkeley
David Mattingly
Assistant Professor, Department of Physics, University of New Hampshire
John McGonagle
B.S. in Computer Science, MIT
Michael Mendrin
B.S. in Physics, UCLA
Jean-Marc Miszaniec
Master in the Teaching of Mathematics, Concordia University B.S. in Physics, Carleton University
Queenbe Monyei
B.A. in Anthropology, UCLA P.G.C.E in Early Years Education, London Metropolitan University
Karleigh Moore
B.S. in Comparative Media Studies, MIT B.S. in Computer Science, MIT
Andrew Normand
M.Phys, University of Warwick PGCE, University College London
Tim O’Brien
M.S. in Physics, University of California San Diego
Akshay Padmanabha
M.Eng in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT
Joseph Ambrose Pagaran
Ph.D. in Solar Physics, University of Bremen
Hannah Pang
B.S. in Computer Science, MIT
Nick Pilewski
Ph.D. in Math, Ohio University
Geoff Pilling
B.S. in EE/Physics, Caltech Ph.D. in Physics, UC Berkeley
Janae Pritchett
B.S. in Geology, Yale University B.S. in Environmental Science, Yale University
Layla Reaves
B.A. in English, Howard University
Austin Ritz
S.M. in Mechanical Engineering, MIT
Francisco Rivera
B.A./M.S. in Applied Mathematics, Harvard University
Pratik Sachdeva
Ph.D. in Physics, UC Berkeley
Danielle Scarano
B.S. in Neuroscience, Duke University
Laura Smith
B.A. in Computer Science, UC Berkeley
Adam Strandberg
B.S. in Physics, MIT
Megan Sullivan
B.F.A. in Illustration, RISD
Kristian Takvam
B.S. in Physics, UT Dallas B.S. in Business Administration, UT Dallas
July Thomas
B.A. in Mathematics, University of Florida Ph.D. student in theoretical astrophysics, University of Florida
Aaron Thomas-Bolduc
Ph.D. in Philosophy, University of Calgary
Rafael Del Valle Vega
B.S./M.S. in Mathematics, University of Puerto Rico
Ognjen Vukadin
Ph.D. in Natural Sciences (Mathematics), University of Vienna
Tiffany Wang
B.A. in Mass Communication/Media Studies, UC Davis
Jeremy Watt
Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering, Northwestern University
Lee Weinstein
Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering, MIT
Jordan Wilheim
B.S. in Cell Biology, UC Davis M.S. in Bioinformatics, Northeastern University
Christopher Williams
B.A. in History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science and Medicine, University of Chicago M.F.A. in Creative Writing, Columbia University
Patrick Wong
B.S. in Mathematics and Physics, Northeastern University MSc in Physics, University of Cologne
John Young
Artist
Arsh Zahed
B.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, UC Berkeley